Navy’s high end war fighting capability has been given a major boost, with the successful firing of a Harpoon Block II Missile.
The missile was fired at a land target at the United States Missile Range Facility at Point Mugu California from HMAS Perth during the Anzac Class Frigate’s recent deployment to the United States.
Commodore Warfare, CDRE Stuart Mayer says the importance of the test firing shouldn’t be understated.
“These firings significantly increase the versatility and potency of one of the Navy's key weapons systems,’ CDRE Mayer told Navy News.
“We now have the ability to conduct long range attacks against land targets or ships operating in the littoral space. The demonstration of this capability and the successful upgrade of the ship’s systems to accommodate the advanced harpoon missile make a great contribution to Navy’s ability to project power to fight and win at sea and support forces ashore.”
The firings were planned in detail by the recently formed Australian Maritime Warfare Centre (AWMC), which operates from Garden Island, Sydney. The AMWC is the centre of extensive maritime warfare subject matter expertise and corporate knowledge. A specialist weapons test team from the AMWC embarked in Perth to oversee the firings.
Commanding Officer HMAS Perth CAPT Mal Wise says the firing was a major highlight for his crew. “We launched the first harpoon against a land-based target and the second against a moored target very close to the beach. Both missiles hit their marks, “CAPT Wise said.
“We knew we were playing a key role in what was a very significant event. There was a lot at stake. So when we received confirmation that the Missile had hit the target, the team was very excited and more than a little relieved. This success represents a great deal of hard work and focused effort by the Crew of Perth”
The firing is the culmination of two inter-related projects. Project C 1348 Phase A sought to deliver a Harpoon firing capability to Anzac Class Frigates. Joint Project One Phase R aimed to upgrade the Harpoon to a Block Two Standard.
Prior to the firings, HMAS Perth completed the first phase of an upgrade to improve her weapon systems and sensor arrays. The improvements under the Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) upgrade include a new Australian designed and built digital Active Phased Array Radar and increased performance for the existing combat management system. On 28 November 2011 the Government announced that the ASMD upgrade would be fitted to all Anzac Class frigates over the next five years.
HMAS Arunta is the second ship to undergo the ASMD conversion which began at BEA Henderson in Western Australia in April this year.